My 3-year-old always asks if she can “play with kids” and really enjoys socializing. I am involved in a number of activities with her, but we are restricted to what we can do, since I also have a 9-month-old. Since potty training has been a bust, I was unable to place my toddler in Parsippany's public preschool program.
After asking around, I was referred by many mom friends to Hearts and Hands Preschool, which is run by the Parsippany Presbyterian Church. I was impressed when I took a tour and found it had a nice art studio, a weekly visit with a music teacher and a well-balanced curriculum.
Here is how the first day of school went:
- 6:15 a.m.-Beep! Beep! The alarm goes off. My husband swats at the alarm clock, since it aligns with his work schedule and he is going in late so he can see our daughter off for her first day of preschool.
- 6:30 a.m.-The alarm goes off again. He fumbles with the buttons. I glare at him.
- 6:45 a.m.-Really, the beeping is getting annoying, now! Today is a remarkable day-not only is it the first day of pre-K, it's also only the third time in the nine months our baby has been around that she has slept through the night. The extra sleep would have been nice!
- 7 a.m.-We give in and head to the kitchen. My husband starts coffee and I fill a sippy cup with juice for my older daughter to take with her. I pack a bag with pull-ups, wipes, a change of clothes and a smock for art (consisting of a T-shirt with a logo from my husband's previous employer, with the requisite Sharpie-written name on the inside tag).
- 7:30 a.m.-Older daughter wakes up, along with baby in quick succession. I take advantage of the toddler’s early morning confusion by ambushing her in the bedroom, quickly pulling on the school clothes I’d already picked out.
- 7:45 a.m.-I put the baby in her high chair. My older daughter begins her familiar refrain: “I want chocolate milk. Want chocolate milk! Chocolate milk! Puhleeeez!”
- 7:46 a.m.-She’s drinking the Ovaltine, which she believes is chocolate milk. I start to comb her hair. She balks. I reach my hand out to take the Ovaltine. Her love for the mineral-laden chocolate wins and I finish putting two small pigtails in her hair.
- 7:46 a.m.-8:30 a.m.-A blur. During this time I manage to dress myself, put on a little makeup, finish my coffee, entertain and feed the baby and take some pictures.
- 8:35 a.m.-I take the baby and my older daughter in my car, while my husband drives solo, so he can hit the road after the hand-off. In the car my daughter says, “I want to stay with mommy.” I remind her that I’ll pick her up at lunch time, which seems to satisfy her.
- 8:40 a.m.-We walk into school, five minutes before start-time. People are swarming; we run into a lot of parents and kids we know. We make our way to her room, introducing our family to the teacher and her assistant. My daughter gravitates towards a kitchen playset and ignores us all, so we leave.
- 8:50 a.m.-The baby and I are back in the car and my body is hit with a momentary jolt as I look in the back and realize the child usually in the booster seat is missing. Coming back to reality, I remember where I am (the giant sign in front of the school is a dead giveaway) and drive back home.
- 9 a.m.-11:40 a.m.-I feed the baby and play with her. While she naps, I work on my writing projects.
- 11:50 a.m.-Walking through the parking lot at Hearts and Hands, I hear a familiar voice calling to me out the window, “Mommy! It’s my mommy! She’s here!”
- 11:55 a.m.-I walk in and she is happy to be there, but also seems glad to go home. The teachers assure me that she’s had a good day. In the car she drinks her juice and tells me she they gave her animal crackers for snack and the kids who are staying for the day are having bologna and cheese. She is curious about the word "bologna" and repeats it a few times.
- 12:15 p.m.-The little one is in the high chair, the toddler is sitting at the bar in the kitchen and all is right with the world. She inquires about bologna and I try to pull a fast one, offering her turkey deli meat. She has never agreed to eat lunch meat before. Unfortunately, today is no different. We all have grilled cheese. She tells me she sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle Star,” played with the kitchen set, met nice girls and was bitten by a boy she calls “Oomie.” She doesn’t appear to be injured and is a fan of Team Umizoomi on TV, so I’m not alarmed, merely curious.